MERRY CHRISTMAS 2013 VIEWERS! HAPPY NEW YEAR 2014!

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Falling snow effect courtesy of Google+



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Original photo taken with Canon EOS REBEL T3i -  f/8, 1/80sec, ISO-800, 50mm lens

CHRISTMAS CANON - Trans-Siberian Orchestra (HD) (MY VIDEOS)

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My video creation of one of my all time favourite Christmas songs - Christmas Canon from the Trans Siberian Orchestra.

Enjoy!
















TRYING OUT MY NEW - CANON EOS REBEL T3i CAMERA

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So lately I've been busy learning how to use my latest camera - the Canon EOS REBEL T3i. It seems everyone and their mother owns one, hence there are many reviews on this camera so I won't go into detail other than to give my personal use experience.

This camera was an early Christmas gift from my husband. As my experience in photography develops, so does the camera. I couldn't wait to get home and open it up.

It was a kit containing the following items:
 1. The Camera (of course)
 2. Battery Pack (with protective cover)
 3. Battery Charger
 4. Wide Strap
 5. Interface cable
 6. Stereo AV Cable
 7. EOS DIGITAL Solution Disk
 8. Software Instruction Manual
 9. Camera Instruction Manual (which I am now using religiously instead of my usual way of learning anything - push buttons first, figure it out later!)
10. And of course their standard zoom lens, the EF-S 15-55mm zoom lens. This standard zoom lens is designed with Canon's Optical Image Stabilizer technology which allows sharp hand-held shots at shutter speeds up to four stops slower than otherwise possible. For now, it's good enough!

Some of the accessories contained in the kit

Whenever I need to practice using my camera(s), my loverbird, Houdini, (other than my backyard squirrels), is my most favourite subject to photograph. He never seems to mind and is always ready and willing.  I tried to dig up old photos of him using my previous camera - an old Olympus camera, which is still a great camera by the way, to compare photos with this new Canon Rebel camera.

When I first started using the camera, I kept it on the 'A+' setting - where everything is done automatically and which is the suggested setting for beginners. I could see an immediate difference in picture quality, both colour and sharpness, but it wasn't until I started using the 'macro' setting that I could really see the difference.




Then I just went crazy!
By the end of this photo shoot, this camera made me look like I knew what the hell I was doing... you know, like an expert!  For that reason alone, I LOVED it!


The NUTCRACKER, Dance of the Mirlitons

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It's that time of year and although it is not a Christmas song, it was played around that time period.  One of many pieces from  Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's score from the opera ballad, The Nutcracker, here is my take on Dance of the Mirlitons.












FOOD PORN: 'SWEET, CHOCOLATE CHIP-OVERLOAD' CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

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Ok. So Today, make that yesterday, I was busy in the kitchen whipping up a batch of chocolate chip cookies - something I do often since I'm always trying to find the perfect recipe for one or at the very least, trying to perfect the one I always use.  I'm not talking 'healthy' chocolate chip cookie recipes, (I'll experiment and work on that later).  I'm talking about the good old home-made chocolate chip cookies that mom used to make.

Although, I've made them so many times in different ways, I don't really think you can make a 'bad' batch of chocolate chip cookies.  I've added ground oatmeal to them - which gives them a nice, nutty texture and flavour, but my guys didn't fancy them as much. I've omitted the milk chocolate chips and only used semi-sweet - they said they were not chocolately and sweet enough.  I've used less baking soda but they don't like them too flat.  I've added nuts to them - whether it be almonds, macadamias or pecans - but they are not nut freaks, at least not when it comes to chocolate chip cookies.

So, in the end, what they really wanted was some THICK and CHEWY, SWEET AND SOFT ON THE INSIDE-CRISPY-ON-THE-OUTSIDE, CHOCOLATEY, NUT-LESS, CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES! Whoa!  Talk about PICKY!! It was hard trying to pull off that tall of an order... but I think I did.

No more of those popular, flat, dried-up-looking cookies, (see the end of this post), that I usually buy for them when I don't have time to bake.

After seeing all these pictures, you'll either be sick and tired of seeing another chocolate chip cookie photo, be craving some right now... or they will just simply satisfy that chocolate chip cookie urge you've been having lately! Food porn - here we go!!

There were a few things that helped to make the middle of these chocolate chip cookies softer on the inside; the melting of the butter and the elimination of an egg white. They were also a bit thicker than most chocolate chip cookies because I used more baking soda - 1/2 tsp more, than is required. They were LOADED, and I mean LOADED with chocolate chips.  There was more chocolate chip than cookie!  All this can be altered to suit your liking.  I only made it the way these guys wanted it. The recipe is at the end.

By the way, if you have a really good chocolate chip cookie recipe or know of any tips or tricks - then please share it ;)



With these chocolate chip cookies, you were guaranteed at least 3-4... probably more, chocolate chips with EVERY bite, lol...  but that was the idea!



YOU KNOW WINTER IS COMING WHEN...

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I keep hearing and reading it will be a harsh winter this year.  I can only hope they are wrong. However, according to that old winter folklore further below, I'm afraid they could be right.



YOU KNOW WINTER IS COMING WHEN...

... all the leaves are almost gone.








... squirrels are busy collecting insulation from your patio furniture.





A Winter Folklore

If ant hills are high in July,

Winter will be snowy.
If the first week in August is unusually warm,

the coming Winter will be snowy and long.
For every fog in August,

There will be a snowfall in Winter.
If a cold August follows a hot July,

It foretells a Winter hard and dry.
When leaves fall early,

Fall and Winter will be mild;
When leaves fall late,
Winter will be severe.

Squirrels gathering nuts in a flurry,

Will cause snow to gather in a hurry.
Much rain in October,

Much wind in December.
A warm October,

A cold February.
Full Moon in October without frost,

No frost ’till November’s Full Moon.
Flowers bloomin’ in late Autumn,

A sure sign of a bad Winter comin’.
A warm November is the sign of a bad Winter.
As high as the weeds grow,

So will the bank of snow.
Thunder in the Fall foretells a cold Winter.
Onion skins very thin,

Mild Winter coming in;
Onion skins thick and tough,
Coming Winter cold and rough.

A green Christmas; a white Easter.
If there’s thunder during Christmas week,

The Winter will be anything but meek.



A tough Winter is ahead if:

corn husks are thick and tight…
apple skins are tough…
birds migrate early…
squirrels tails are very bushy…
berries and nuts are plentiful…
bees build their nests high in the trees.




MY TOP 6 ALL-TIME FAVOURITE ROB FORD MOMENTS....

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#6. GETTING DOWN AND JIGGY WITH IT...






#5. THE INVISIBLE TACKLE







#4. UP CLOSE AND IN YOUR FACE







#3. KNOCKING OVER COUNCILLOR





#3. ACTING LIKE AN ASS... 








#2.  HAVE I TRIED IT? NO. UHM, PROBABLY IN ONE OF MY DRUNKEN STUPORS...








#1. OH FORGET IT! I GIVE UP!






CHEEKY SQUIRREL GOES 'TO TOWN' ON MY LAWN CHAIR AND STUFFS HIS MOUTH 'LIKE A BOSS!'

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Omg.  I can't believe the tenacity of these squirrels. It took this one squirrel, not one, not two, not even 3 or 4 attempts before finally giving up on stuffing it's mouth with batting/wadding from the chair.

I did a video not too long ago of one attacking my lawn chair, which, by the way, is now rendered absolutely useless after this squirrel in my latest video went at it, but after scaring the previous one away, it did not come back for a few weeks.  Then all of a sudden, it started again, but this time this one was on a mission...















OFFICE LYRICS: MILEY'S 'WRECKING BALL'

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In the office, the radio is always turned down low. There is no control over this. There is also no control over what we'd like to hear.  Some songs are repeated over and over and over and over again - til they drive you insane!

Every so often I hear a song that I thought I was singing the correct lyrics to, until I find out otherwise.

These I will call my "Office Lyrics"...








PERFUME VS. BEER

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Lol. So the other day, my husband bought me a Jean Paul Gaultier perfume to add to my many collections of perfume.  I started collecting them about five years ago - when he bought me my first bottle from Dolce & Gabbana.  Up until then, I was wearing the 'cheaper' stuff, because that's all I could afford. Now I collect perfumes like women collect purses, bags, shoes etc., but only if HE buys them, lol.

I have to admit, I was not too impress with the fragrance. As a matter of fact, I was more impress with the bottle!  I was staring at it and staring at it. Turning it around and around.  Lol.  I've never heard of this perfume before, (or any other perfume until he hands them to me), so I was so surprise, first of all, that it came in a can and doubly surprised when I saw what was IN the can.  I had to take pictures...




HALLOWEEN: Lol, Exorcist Visits Retirement Home (MY VIDEOS)

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A visit to a favourite retirement home was in order and it just happened to be on Halloween day! Boy was I glad that I did!  I managed to capture the 'exorcist' (who was there visting her mom, who was also dressed up for Halloween), in action, coming down the hallway, lol. (See my video at the end). A lot of the residents and staff were in costumes, but, of course, I could only share with you, the pictures of the ones that would allow me to do so.

Everyone looked great in their costumes but the one I found most fascinating was the 'exorcist' aka 'Lisa'. Lisa explained to me that this costume took her over 4 hours to do!  I thought she did an excellent job.  She looked so scary that some people wouldn't even look at her!  I saved hers for the last.


MY YOUTUBE FINDS: Over enthusiastic guy shows his salesmanship in selling rubber gloves

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Lol.  Over enthusiastic is putting it mildy when it comes to describing this sales guy.  And these are some heavy duty gloves - waaaay more durable than the ones we use at work that sometimes get ripped.

I wonder where I could purchase a box of these, lol.

I would think we should be able to get them here. If it was made in China....










The Adventures of The CHEEKY SQUIRREL(S) - "The Lawn Chair Attack"

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Well, I wasn't too happy the other day when I caught this cheeky squirrel chewing up my lawn chair.  By the time I realized what he was doing it was too late.  He already ripped it up.  I thought after he had seen me at the patio door - he would have taken off.  No such luck.  At least I got it on camera! Lol.








MY SIGHTINGS: DOVES ATOP CHAPTERS' BUILDING

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These doves either liked reading good books or they knew where the good food was at, lol.  They were all gathered on the roof of the Chapters store... and nowhere else.

So if you think it's just owls that are associated with wisdom and sacred knowledge, you might want to think again.












No doves anywhere else in sight!









MY YOUTUBE FINDS - Jack

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Meet Jack English, a 93-year-old legend who lives in a cabin isolated deep in the Ventana Wilderness.

While on a hunting trip he learned that an old homestead in the Ventana Wilderness was being put up for auction by the estate of a childless heiress. He put a bid on the property and won. On the land he built a small cabin using materials from the land and milling trees by hand. When his wife passed away, Jack effectively left "society" and moved to the cabin full time.


Ventana Wilderness is a Federally designated wilderness area located in the Santa Lucia Mountains along the Central Coast of California.  Some favourite quotes I loved, from Jack...


"It's not that I don't like people, I do, but I don't like 'swarms' of them."

"I'm just different than most people... I'd rather go back than go ahead."


I would love to be able to live like Jack someday... just not alone, lol.  Great video!



Jack





HOUDINI FINALLY TRIES OUT HIS NEW BIRD BATH!

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Yeah!

So it has been 3 months since our lovebird Houdini, finally felt brave enough to try out the new bird bath/observatory. Lol. I say observatory because that's what he has been using it for - to gain closer access to seeing us when we're in the kitchen. Not as a bird bath.

I thought he'd never use it. I did everything to try to encourage him and then finally, one day - bam! He uses it. Just like that! (See video)

I remained pretty calm as not to scare him. I was happy and finally relieved to see him use it. I only have the one love bird and I've had him for almost 10 years now. I've also noticed over that period of time, that whenever I get him something new, it takes him weeks to get used to it.  This time, the bird bath took months.

I thought this day would never come...



CUTTING UP SOME FRESH PINEAPPLE...

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So I had to cut up some fresh pineapple the other day. Since I've started doing this a few years ago, no one seems to want the can pineapple anymore. Now I've created a bunch of spoiled pineapple brats... Wait a minute, that doesn't sound right.  Well you get the picture.

It doesn't take long to do - just a lot of mess.  In the end it is worth it.  I did 2 that day.

Anyways, for those who care, this is how it was done...




First you want to twist off the top part of the pineapple, or you can just slice off the top right below the leaves (as shown above).  People twist them off if they want to reuse the top part to grow more pineapple. I'm not planning on planting and growing any pineapple... I just love twisting them off... I'm weird.



Then you want to cut off the top and bottom of the pineapple...










AN AUTUMN ESCAPE (Relaxing) (MY VIDEOS)

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From my 'Relaxing' series...
Be sure to watch in HD ;)
Enjoy.





CHEEKY SQUIRREL DEVOURS PEANUT BUTTER

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So while having lunch with a co-worker the other day, we came across 'another' cheeky squirrel standing so close to us and just staring at us.  He wouldn't move for anything.  Then we realized it was the peanut butter packets we were eating out of.  He smelled the peanut butter, lol.  I guess it was the wrong thing to eat around a bunch of squirrels!

You know what's cooler than the pictures of him eating it?  It's me capturing it on video. I was only able to capture it for a few seconds - but that was good enough.

He licked that thing clean before throwing it away, lol. Slob!

Peanut butter packet
It never ceases to amaze me how dexterous their little paws are. The way he held on to that peanut butter packet and licked it clean looked similar to how, well, I would do it!

The majority of the squirrels around here at work seem to be rather 'friendly' and of course, cheeky.  I hope to capture more of their antics when time and weather permits.  For now, I was just happy to capture this moment with one of them.


BEAUTY AND THE BEAST? - COLOURFUL CHRYSANTHEMUMS + MONSTER TRUCK...

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So I stopped by the Home Depot today and just had to take some pics of the beautiful mums they had on display. They were everywhere but none as vibrant as these ones. I love all the colours - especially the vibrant yelllows and fuscia. Some of the pots even had 3 different colours in one!

Everytime I go out shopping and I see them, I just have to buy one.  They always seem to cheer me up.
Sometimes I wish they could last forever like this, but unfortunately they don't.

I also seen a nice 'monster' truck in the same parking lot and took some pics of that, lol.  Anyways, I hope these colours will brighthen your day too. Fall is in the air!


The Beauty...



KEEPING MY DARK LAMINATE FLOORS SMUDGE FREE - THE EASY WAY!

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Had a few friends over the other day and they were wondering how I kept my dark laminated floors so 'smudge free'.

The thing is, laminate floors are great but the darker ones show everything and I mean everything!  Everyone who owns them, knows this.  Everyone also warned me about this before I had them installed but I didn't care.  I love dark, warm colours inside so it was never a question of getting dark or light laminate flooring but rather how to keep them from showing all the footprints, smudges, etc.

First of all, let me say from experience, you'll never get a dark laminate floor completely smudge free or even shining like new - at least not for any length of time, but that's ok.  It doesn't matter anyways.  After awhile, you get used to the 'not-so-perfect-dark-laminate' and just enjoy it for how it is.

Yes, I've tried wearing socks but once your feet gets sweaty, it shows on the laminate also.  I also don't like using too much liquid or products such as Murphy's Oil, Orange-Glo, etc. because I don't want to create a build up over time.  The smart thing to do is to clean with the least amount of chemicals possible - try using just vinegar and water. (See the video I made at the end). The next thing to do and I think the most important thing in order to keep your floors looking their best after cleaning it is to wear something that leaves a minimum amount of trackable evidence.

Welcome to my discovery of the 'Slipper Genie'!...


GRRR! NO MORE WASTED BREAD!

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Don't you just hate it when you go to take a couple slices of bread and you've discovered there's mold growing on them?? Yick! Grrr!
I am so tired of wasting bread that I had to take drastic measures.

I already took drastic measures a few years back when I literally had to throw out whole bags of bread that were molded from not being touched. I would bring them home fresh, then everyone would touch them and say "ooh, fresh bread, nice".  A week later, they would touch them again - "ooh, they are getting stale mom"... grrr.  "That's it!". I had decided to freeze the entire bread immediately after purchase, this way the freshness was locked in, and only took it out if it was needed the next day. This worked great for a short while until they wanted fresh bread NOW.... not later or tomorrow.  I would tell them to "throw it in the toaster".... "no thanks, we don't want toasted bread, we want fresh bread...".  So much for that plan.
"Yick!  Molded bread!"

They would eat 4 or 6 slices out of the bag then that was it. No one touched it again until they needed it - then it was stale. So then I would end up tossing out almost an entire loaf of bread!

Grrr!

The way the economy's been going lately with prices soaring on everything - especially bread, I had to do something.  I felt like we were slowly reverting back to the 1918s during the U-Boat era when bread was so scarce due to those merchant ships that carried the sacred stuff getting sunk left right and centre, that they had to start rationing it.   Maybe I should stick the poster below somewhere up in the kitchen as a hint...


POLL: ARE GRAPHIC IMAGES NECESSARY?

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WARNING:  GRAPHIC IMAGES!

So last week I sat down to read the paper only to discover amongst the flyers a postcard so graphic it left me dumbfounded.  Why would anyone even think to send such a thing in the mail is beyond me.

Usually, I can handle gross images, but when it comes to children, I can't.

Even more confusing for me is the fact that I'm actually for graphic images. In Canada, along with over some 30+ countries, graphic images are used everyday on cigarette packs to get messages across about the dangers of smoking.  How effective this is, is another story, but I'm sure those graphic images saved a few lives.  This for me however is different.  What if a child discovered this image first? Or are today's children desensitized to all this?  What if some adult sees it and immediately goes into seizure? Maybe displaying these images has opened up a lot of eyes - it sure has mine!  I didn't even know the laws in Canada allows one to abort fetuses so late in pregnancy!  This is like murder to me, of a human being! But was this the right approach?  Couldn't they have inserted them in an envelope with some kind of warning on the envelope itself?




These postcards were created and distributed by the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform which targeted a few MPs who voted against an anti-abortion backbench motion, a motion which wanted to start a study to define when a human life begins.

Jonathon Van Maren, communications director of the anti-abortion centre stated:
"We know these images will turn some people's stomachs. They turn my stomach. But we looked at the history of social movements … and they often used graphic images to get their message across."  
Ok.  So maybe he has a point but like I said, did they have to do it this way?

I don't know. I remember reading a long time ago how Russia displayed on it's billboards real accident scenes to deter drinking and driving. On one hand it's good to 'wake us up' to reality but on the other hand, too much and we will only be desensitized after awhile.

For the rest of that day, all I could talk about at work were these images. A lot of my co-workers were shocked and some wouldn't even dare to look at the postcard.

So what are your thoughts?  Are graphic images really necessary to get a point across?






Warning:  Read more only if you want to see the unblurred pics.

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